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This morning, I awoke to a Tweet from Greta Thurnberg, the teenage Climate Activist from Sweden. This was her answer to #2019inFiveWords:

“Our house is on fire.”

You’ve got to admit, this young lady is consistent. She didn’t say the “Climate” is on fire, or the “Planet,” she said, “OUR HOUSE!” If I found my actual house was on fire, I’d pick up that little red fire extinguisher we keep in the kitchen and have at it. I’d dial 911. I’d clear all the people and pets out, maybe I’d take some family pictures. But come to think of it, most have been digitized, so I’d pick up my laptop. If I had the time that is…

Greta is trying to tell us this is personal. We shouldn’t get distracted with Impeachment Hearings when a true existensial crisis is looming. HA, I looked up how to spell the word cause I’d obviously misspelled it, and it just so happens that “EXISTENTIAL” is the 2019 “Word of the Year” at Dictionary.com:

adjective

of or relating to existence:Does climate change pose an existential threat to humanity?

 

I believe it does pose a threat; it keeps great minds awake at night. It creates actual floods since our seas are rising, polar ice is melting, and human floods of refugees seeking peace and a sustainable livelihood. Fires are killing koalas in Australia and decimating forest canopies in the Amazon. Our literal house, our whole world is suffering, and we have a President who mocks science, scoffs at facts, and jokes about windmills.

Our country has become a joke on the world stage.

And speaking of the world, our children have flown off to tropical locales for the New Year. And I know about the carbon imprint of air travel, but honestly, how else can we get anywhere? Sailing across the ocean like Greta would have used up literally ALL of their vacation time. So we must fight for the Climate while also doing what we can to take care of ourselves; putting the oxygen mask on the adults first so to speak. Which leads me to my five words:

Family almost always comes first. 

I’ve added a quantifier to my usual motto about family, “almost.” Women are more likely to be the caregivers in a family, to be the 3 am on-duty nurse, the round-the-clock scheduler, the chauffeur and chief cook. Yes, some things have changed since we raised our girls without limits and with great expectations. But some things have remained the same.

This past year I’ve learned to say “No” more often. I’ve figured out that self-care isn’t a sin, it’s a necessity. Our generation isn’t just in the middle of a sandwich – anthropologists like to call us “The Sandwich Generation” – I’ve felt like I’m in a “Club Sandwich.” Pile on the meat and cheese please, we are drowning in obligatory exercises of futility. And of course, this time of year doesn’t help.

What does help is JOMO (Joy of Missing Out), which is the opposite of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out):

Kristen Fuller said “JOMO” is essentially the “emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO” and it is “about being present and being content with where you are at in life.” Some people are born with it, others learn to embrace it.” https://www.insider.com/what-is-jomo-2018-7

So my #2019inFiveWords is not just about setting boundaries and caring for myself, something btw the nuns wouldn’t approve of, but it’s also about saying I’m Enough! For a number 9 Enneagram that’s a tough road to walk. Right here, right now I can be happy! I was strolling with Bob and Ms Bean yesterday, who has fully recovered from her near fatal illness, listening to the birds and feeling the warm winter sun on my face, when Bob said, “Where should we go in 2020?”

And I may have been a teensy bit short with him. Virginia Woolf once said, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.” But maybe in 2020, we’ll not only impeach, but convict and remove Mr T from office. Maybe we’ll stop chasing windmills and avoiding Climate Change. And I just may continue to embrace this ever-changing town I’m calling home. Even if it doesn’t have a Chinese restaurant open on Christmas day.

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This morning while scrolling through Twitter, I saw that a new Ms America was crowned last night. While I was group texting with the kiddos about the Democratic Debate out in LA, a Virginia Tech Hokie walked away with the crystal tiara in Connecticut. And get this, Camille Schrier is a biochemist who didn’t have to strut in a swimsuit competition; she did, however, demonstrate a cool science experiment as her talent!

The new Miss America told the crowd during introductions that she plans to get a doctor of pharmacy degree at VCU, in Richmond, Virginia. She has undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and systems biology from Virginia Tech.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/19/entertainment/miss-america-2020-trnd/index.html

But let’s return to the debate. The best take-away from Twitter is that Amy Klobuchar is the Goldilocks candidate: “…she’s not too young, not too old; not too hot not too cold; not too left, not too right.” She was the only candidate in the room with Chuck Schumer and Nancy and Mitch, trying to iron out the rules for an Impeachment trial in the Senate.

Amy brought her Minnesotan Nice self into the dust-up between Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth warren when they were discussing “wine caves” and “purity tests” and who has more money than whom –

I did not come here to listen to this argument,” she declared. “I came here to make a case for progress.” Of course, she added, she herself had never been to a wine cave — although she had visited “the wind cave in South Dakota.”

 

It’s time to take a breath, pour some egg nog and take the Grands to see the Nutcracker!

What could be better than Tchaikovsky and magical Christmas dreams? I remember actually using a steel nutcracker to crack open walnuts around the holidays, I even remember sticking cloves in oranges; today we light candles for scent and buy our nuts pre-cracked, in bags all ready for baking. But according to a German folktale, nutcrackers symbolize strength and power, with an ability to guard the family against danger – like Russian dancers, or an army of mice.

Kind of like a Ring doorbell for that matter!

Old traditions are changing with the times. Beauty pageants are no longer all about perfect measurements and teeth. Science can be sexy. Women and gay dudes can run for president and maybe even win in the new year. And dancers of all colors can twirl on their toes under the spell of Herr Drosselmeier.

But the big news that’s not getting much coverage is that Billy Graham’s publication, “Christianity Today,” is calling for Mr T to not just be impeached, but removed from office. The editors called his attempts to shakedown a foreign leader for his own personal gain “…profoundly immoral.” I wonder if his legions of devoted followers will listen, or even care?

“He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”  https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-12-20/trump-outrage-tweet-christianity-today-impeachment

If Mr T is removed from office, Mike Pence would be President; no moral confusion there. Enter the guy who can’t be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife

So Happy Holidays Everyone, whatever holiday you’re celebrating!

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Does wisdom really come with age?

Or is it just another word, in a cacophony of Tweets by this President, meant to deflect our slow but steady march to impeachment? Bob has been saying for days that starting a war would win him the next election. But after trying to tarnish his front-runner, Joe Biden, and watching Bernie Sanders succumb to an MI, maybe Mr T thinks abandoning our allies in Syria will turn the tide.

After all, we’re not talking Ukraine today.

Today, my 92 year old neighbor and friend, Berdelle, will be meeting up with 95 year old President Jimmy Carter to jockey a nail gun with Habitat for Humanity. Sporting a black eye and 14 stitches from a recent fall, this ex-President has more wisdom in his little finger than the current inhabitant of the West Wing. He arrived in Nashville yesterday with the much-needed rain:

“Country music singer Eric Paslay performed “Deep as it is Wide,” a song he penned about the hope for something bigger and better than us.

“In a land full of songwriters and singers, we’re always trying to say I love you in a different way,” he (Carter) told the Habitat volunteers huddled under a white tent and sheltered from the morning’s storms. 

“… It’s amazing how Habitat shows love to the world. You can say I love you, but when you go out with your hands and your feet, that’s the strongest way. You don’t even have to say anything.'”  https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2019/10/08/president-jimmy-carter-nashville-habitat/2432826001/

Actions do speak louder than words. And my way of showing love to my family has always been with my cooking. Ever since the temperatures have started to fall, I’ve been making soup. There’s just something about a pot of homemade soup simmering on the stove that says comfort food. Since I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, yesterday I made the Bride’s special Peanut Soup! Mostly it’s carrots, onions and sweet potatoes, with a kick of ginger and peanut butter.

Bob delivered said soup to Ms Berdelle while they were planning a Fall garden. I had never heard of a “Fall garden,” planting vegetables like kale in October. My past Yankee experience was limited to planting bulbs in the Fall. Wisdom comes with so many lessons; love is in the details. Like spreading seeds and plants throughout your urban neighborhood. Like getting up when you fall, and fulfilling a promise to build homes in Nashville.

This is what true leadership and wisdom looks like.

Hands building homes instead of typing off Twitter tirades. I mean, if the Lords of Twitter can block you for hate speech, or trolling a celebrity, or showing your breasts, then why can’t our Golfer-in-Chief be blocked for spreading lies? He’s threatened to “totally destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy, while polling for impeachment climbs to 58%. I was wondering what might convince his Republican comrades he’s run amuck.

The chaos Mr T’s Twitter feed has created is unmatched in history. I prefer to chop up the holy trinity of onions, celery and carrots for a soup base, and maybe add fresh sage for wisdom.

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The South doesn’t do snow.

Bob and I were supposed to be Grandparenting this morning, but the temperature plummeted and ice is supposed to turn into snow, so the Grands are home from school with the Groom. He is a great Dad and told us he can work from home; also pancakes are his specialty!

And in light of the racist slurs that came from Mr T yesterday, I made Bob sit down on the couch this morning and put Netflix on his iPad. I heard that President Obama was going to be David Letterman’s first guest on his new gig, “My Next Guest” https://www.netflix.com/title/80209096

Cue the bluebirds. We laughed, we even teared up a little, as we listened to Obama talk about bringing his oldest to college. They were having fun with each other and when Letterman told him he really respected Obama – as a man – and embraced him, I felt so much longing for those days. For a President that could make me dream again.

So it was a bittersweet interview, because I miss that man, and nobody mentioned Mr T at ALL. Which was refreshing, but in his absence, in his void, lies uncertainty. Like children of alcoholic parents, we the American people never know what to expect from his mouth or his Twitter fingers. We were getting so close to a deal on DACA yesterday, that I have to think Mr T’s racist remarks were calculated for his base. Just another bright shiny object to deflect the press. We already knew he was a bigoted nationalist, now I wonder if this president is either terribly sinister, stupid, or suffering from Alzheimer’s. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/12/trump-denies-he-called-countries-s–holes-rejects-senators-daca-deal.html

I did not, will not and could not watch Mr T sign a proclamation for Martin Luther King Day earlier. Instead, to commemorate Dr King’s life, I hauled myself out to the outskirts of  Davidson County and registered myself to vote in TN. And I have an idea about what to do on Monday. I will print off voter registration forms and leave them at our local coffee shop.

I recently left a book there with a post-it that said, “Free book from your local Book Fairy.” In Ireland they have a Book Fairy group that does this all the time, and you’re supposed to try and do it without being caught. Yesterday I noticed someone had left another free book in their window. It felt so good to know a mitzvah was being paid forward.

It should not be so hard to vote in this democracy. That bears repeating, “IT SHOULD NOT BE SO HARD TO VOTE IN THE USA!!” President Obama talked about strengthening the habits of the heart; the more we help others, extend our hands and really connect with others, the more we advance our democracy and our own humanity.

My Nana had a saying, “When you throw your toast out on the water, it comes back with jelly on it.”

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Yesterday, I was listening to an NPR On Point interview with Ann Patchett about her essay in the NYT – she had decided to spend 2017 as her year of “No Shopping.” Her friend, Elissa Kim, inspired her to give up shopping for frivolous things. Kim had returned to the US after a trip to India and felt, “…obscenely rich.” She was shocked by our sheer abundance compared to the street people she met on her journey; so, Kim gave up shopping for a year. https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510053/on-point-with-tom-ashbrook

The rules were simple: No clothes; No shoes: No bags; No jewelry

WHAT?! What if your winter clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry were all in a Pod stacked somewhere in a warehouse? What if you had to buy holiday presents? Patchett said this didn’t apply to food, which is good since I’d seen her a few times at Whole Foods, and even though we’d met at her store, Parnassus, and I’d sat in front of her at the Love Bug’s Grandparent Turkey Day, I never imposed myself on her celebrity.

Living in Rumson taught me one thing, you may get introduced to the Boss at the gym, but you never fawn over him.

Still, after reading ALL of Patchett’s books, and knowing her husband is also a doctor, I felt a certain connection and found myself stuck to my Sonos on the Nashville NPR station. This year of living without shopping came about seamlessly. She said it had something to do with, “…the state of the country.” Oh I hear you girl. Also realizing that, “I had enough!” To which I would add, I am enough. And finally, she thought she’d been spending a little too much time, “…chilling out by browsing online.”       http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2018/01/02/author-ann-patchetts-year-of-no-shopping

There were so many questions I had after listening to this interview. How do I chill out?Why do we shop? As I’m typing, an email shoots into the right corner of my screen from Eileen Fisher, telling me about their new blue… Oh dear God. I ignore it. Then the doorbell rings, it’s an Amazon package…

But mostly, I am left wondering why people are so darn mean on social media?

I made the mistake of checking On Point’s Twitter feed to add my opinion to the mix, and there were all these nasty comments along the line of, “…it’s called poverty/what a bunch of pretentious, entitled/this is the worst etc.” A TED talk featuring a woman who saved $37,000 one year by not shopping seemed to really set the mob mentality over the edge.

Still, I listened to the subtext. What would happen to our economy if everyone just stopped shopping? And I heard the anger, the anguish of a certain part of society, the part that likes to pit US against THEM. They don’t just cling to their guns and their religion, they like to shop! They not only rejected the idea of doing without, they disparaged the “liberal elite” for trying to do so.

It left me wondering when Republicans became the party for the working class; of course I know it started with LBJ and the South, with that drum roll of racism that still underscores our gerrymandering. My Daddy Jim never finished grade school, worked his whole life and taught me to always root for the “little guy.” The Flapper always said, “Charity begins at home” because we were so poor. She idolized FDR! We came from the coal mining hills of Pennsylvania and always thought the GOP was out of touch, was the party of (and for) the rich. This latest tax scheme should enlighten us all.

Because a certain British rag couldn’t reach Patchett for a comment, they headlined their article about her abundance of lip balm, because at one point she thought she might have to buy some but found more in her coat pockets. My comment was about how Millennials are more interested in the Fashion Chain, ethically sourced materials, and so they love to shop vintage. I was actually trying to listen to the interview, not judge the panel.

I must admit I’m starting to like web browsing ever since we bought our mattresses online, and mea culpa, I’m guilty of standing in a Target aisle wondering how the heck I got there and what I wanted. And then there’s the problem with shoes…

Still who wouldn’t want to find more time and money by not craving that one (insert consumer product here) that will change your life forever? Maybe this will redeem me? Here is a picture of our adorable Cali cousins, little Frankie is in a red beret wearing a lilac bunny sweater that the Flapper knit for the Bride thirty some years ago. I’d call that “Sustainable Knitwear!”

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Yesterday I wore a political tee shirt to the gym. I rode the bike, did some free weights and band stretching, a couple of machines and topped it all off with a T’ai Chi class. I’d forget what I was wearing until someone would smile at me, say they agreed with me, or just outright ask me where I got my shirt! I have never in my life put a bumper sticker on my car, but I walked around all day with this emblazoned on my chest:

My dog is smarter than the President

And it felt great. I even tagged my friend’s store in Nashville, “Come, Sit, Stay,” on Instagram cause I like to give credit where credit is due! And to her credit, Ms Bean is adapting to her city environment. Even though she’s a senior dog, she is learning to walk on a leash, avoid aggressive, yappy dogs, and only bark at the mail carrier, Craig, who has the audacity to come up on our front porch and make a clanging noise, every single day except Sunday, right next to the door.

Yesterday I tried introducing Bean to Craig but she was having none of it. Was it his shorts? The big bag he was carrying? Or that can of pepper spray in his pocket? Her ruff was up and her growl was low.

Our President, however, has learned nothing over his 70+ years of life. He’s become a national embarrassment. Remember when I told you Mr T wanted to buy an NFL team back in the 80s? You may find this interesting: http://www.newsweek.com/trumps-nfl-fight-dates-back-failed-usfl-experiment-80s-jeff-pearlman-670843

“They (NFL team owners) just saw him as this scumbag huckster,” Pearlman told Newsweek. “He was this New York, fast-talking, kind of con-man.”

All this nonsense about disrespecting the flag. Since when are “we the people” not allowed to protest peacefully? I went to a few NFL games back in the 80s, and no players were standing at attention during the anthem. Well, I take that back. My brother Mike would point out to me that the Vikings always stood at attention, while the other teams sat, or talked or stretched.

You don’t take on football in this country, even if you are the President, a guy who holds a grudge. You don’t call anyone’s mom the word for a female dog.

You don’t address the United Nations like a 12 year old school boy, calling countries “losers” and Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man!” Kim Jong-un called his speech a  “dog’s bark.”

You don’t threaten Iran and North Korea via Twitter like some ancient neo-con.

Lately I’ve been wondering if we should still be searching for a beach house, or building a bunker.

And I wonder how Buddha would have dealt with our mail carrier Craig. No, I know what he would have done. He would bark a couple of times, and eventually figure out he wasn’t a threat to his territory. Buddha would get himself up, walk over to the door, and watch the whole transaction very carefully.

But dogs are smart like that. They know when to bark and who to bite.

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“What does feminism mean to you?” Maxine, a new friend questioned me. I had to stop and think, since it feels like such a natural element in my life, she might have well asked, “Why do you need to breathe?”

My rant began slowly and built up over time. But I had to start out with equal pay for equal work, a fundamental, major prerequisite for life here on earth. Luckily she agreed, but she is about ten years younger. I’ve noticed that some younger women take many of our rights for granted, they think the word “feminist” is alienating. They like to call themselves humanists.

Which is OK I guess. After all, they didn’t have to be married to get birth control from a paternalistic, male doctor. They didn’t see their friends mutilated from illegal abortions, and later be unable to bear children. They were never told not to consider college by a school counselor, instead apply to secretarial school. They were never shamed about their sex.

I fumbled into a bit of a Twitter tirade with a young feminist author recently. I try to avoid trolls at all costs, I believe in just blocking them at first sight. But I was reading Hunger by Roxanne Gay, so I started following her and she mentioned she was working on a group of stories about “difficult women.”  And I asked if “difficult women” are the same as “nasty women.”

“NO,” was her one word reply.

The problem was I didn’t see her reply until the next day and by that time a bunch of angry young “feminist” trolls had said some awful things about me in her feed. So I’m not some 12 year old girl who would have been crushed and possibly suicidal by the digital harassment. I responded to them… I said I was a 68 yr old feminist and truly didn’t know the difference and would they please explain. I went high.

Now one of the responders had mentioned “cis women,” and how fed up she was with them (me), so I was guessing this had to do with some Lesbian sexual thing, since Gay is gay and I was simply referencing Hillary’s “nasty women.” I remembered another instance of being shamed online, when a famous food blogger put my picture up and someone said I looked like a “man.”

Now that really hurt! But I blamed it on my pouffy hat at the Downton Abbey premier. IMG_0836

And if you haven’t heard Pink’s response to her daughter being told she looks like “…a boy with long hair,” listen to this: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/8/27/16212862/pink-vma-2017-video-vanguard-acceptance-live-your-truth

Thank you very much Pink! It saddens me that some feminists with differing sexual preferences aren’t on the same page, because we all were once upon a time. Ms Gay deleted all those difficult/nasty/mean Tweets and then she blocked ME!

Fine. Her book became difficult for me to finish, and it wasn’t an easy start as she was gang raped at the age of twelve. But I didn’t block her, I’m giving her a chance to explain herself. After all, she doesn’t know I have a good Lesbian friend here in Nashville.

Now Ivanka is another story. She stood behind her dad in blocking the implementation of President Obama’s rule to address gender-based pay discrimination. (Remember that was my very first point to my new friend). The rule would have required businesses to collect data on pay discrepancies based on gender, ethnicity and race. Here is her explanation, in case you were wondering about her feminist cred.

“Ultimately, while I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results. We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.”

I wish we could all stop shaming each other. When I see snarky comments about FLOTUS wearing stilettos to a flood zone I get just as mad as I would have when anyone criticized Hillary’s hair or her clothes. I mean, come on…..

This is my high school graduation picture, 1966. I was a 17 year old budding feminist then, who didn’t wear stockings or makeup or tease her hair.

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